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Toulouse is a lively and friendly city. It would have to be, since one in four of its inhabitants are students. Traces of a rich and tempestuous past become invisible when you stroll through the city's narrow medieval streets. There are many churches and cathedrals in Toulouse, which is the fourth-largest city in France. A final feature of Toulouse is its modern industry.
Toulouse has almost 400,000 inhabitants. This makes it the fourth-largest city in France, after Paris, Marseille and Lyon. One in four of its people is a student, which makes Toulouse a very vibrant and young city. With a 2.2% population growth, Toulouse is the fastest growing major city in Europe.
Toulouse is located in the middle of southern France. The river Ariege runs through the city, which is situated at about 150 kilometers from the Pyrenees, which is also the Franco-Spanish border. The Gulf of Biscay, on the Atlantic Ocean, is about 200 kilometers away. Golfe du Lion (on the Mediterranean), is about 130 kilometers away from this university town. To the north-east lies the Central Plateau.
In economic terms, Toulouse depends most on its modern industry, in particular the aviation industry; for example, the Airbus factory is located in Toulouse. Since recently, the city has a new theme park focusing on space exploration, La Cité de l'Espace.
Another economic pillar is the university, the second-largest in France. It offers many jobs. The large number of students make sure that the city has a vibrant nightlife.
Tourism is also important to the city. The tourists come for its history, its nightlife and the theme park. The possibility to visit the Airbus factory also attracts many visitors. Finally, the city is known because in the past it was used as a rest stop by pilgrims on their way to Santiago de Compostela (Spain).
Toulouse has a modern bus station, from where you can travel, for example, to Andorra and Agen. There is also a good connection by train to and from the city. Navette Airport bus connects Toulouse Airport with Toulouse. The journey takes about 20 minutes, and a one-way ticket costs a little under € 4. There is a local bus and tram network. This network is operated by Semvat. A ticket that is valid for both services costs € 1.30, and a 10-ride ticket costs € 10.30. This company also runs night buses. At the moment, there is one subway line, while a second one is under construction.
Because Toulouse is a very busy place, it is hard to find a parking space. This makes it more difficult to visit the city by rental car. Parking is also a problem in the center. Some parking tips: there are big car parks underneath Place du Capitole, underneath Allées Jean Jaures, right next to Wilson, and above the indoor market above Place Victor Hugo. On Place St-Sernin parking is free, with the exception of Saturdays, provided you manage to find a spot. Parking costs around € 1.80 an hour, or around € 11.80 per day.
Most of the city's hotels cater to the business community. This means it is hard to find a room during the week. During weekends and in July and August, there are significant discounts. This is to the benefit of tourists. The mid-range hotels have a better price-quality ratio that the budget hotels. If you visit Toulouse during the week (with the exception of July and August), we recommend making reservations in advance. In other cases that is not (really) necessary.
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